How to Stay Connected With Customers Virtually When They’re Stuck at Home

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Consumers are staying home, and it looks like that might not change any time soon. But what also isn’t changing is customers’ high expectations for quality service. This creates a particularly unique challenge for brands that are more accustomed to serving customers face to face as they move to digital-first interactions with customers. 

But never fear, with the right digital tools you can not only keep customers engaged with your brand while they’re at home, but actually elevate the customer experience, delivering value even when your physical store reopens. Here are some things that you can do to connect with your customers and make the most of every touchpoint, even online. 

Website and mobile app

While physical locations are closed, your digital storefront becomes more important than ever. Now, all customers have to use your website or mobile app if they want to make a purchase. However, a poorly-designed website or app can quickly turn them away. In fact, 88 percent of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. This makes it critical to ensure that your website and mobile app is providing a great experience for customers.


Here are some things that you can do to improve your digital storefront: 

Have a mobile-friendly website

Is your website responsive on mobile devices? Your website is the place where the majority of your customers will interact with you. Since people spend hours on their phones each day, it’s important to have a website that works well on mobile. 

Optimize user experience

Having a website that works is a good first step, but having a website and mobile app that provides a great user experience is ideal. According to usability.gov, these are the primary factors that impact user experience (UX).

Useful: Your content should be original and fulfill a need 

Usable: Site must be easy to use 

Desirable: Image, identity, brand, and other design elements are used to evoke emotion and appreciation 

Findable: Content needs to be navigable and locatable onsite and offsite 

Accessible: Content needs to be accessible to people with disabilities 

Credible: Users must trust and believe what you tell them

In short, you want to give all customers clear paths to your most accurate and relevant information.

Make support accessible 

Part of providing a great customer experience is making sure that customers have access to help when they need it most. 1 in 5 mobile users seek in-app support first, and if they can’t find it, they’re likely to move on. With a customer service platform, you can get mobile messaging and self-service built right into your app. This way, support is always just a tap away. 

Social media

Social media also plays a role in communicating with customers. Since customers aren’t interacting with businesses in person right now, social media is at the core of their experience. It’s a great tool for engaging with customers and it can also be an effective support channel. 

However, if customers go to social media for answers and you don’t have a system in place to keep track of those interactions, you may not be able to provide great support. The good news is, transitioning conversations from social media to email, web or phone conversations is possible with the right platform. 

For example, support issues and questions received on platforms like Facebook can be forwarded to a customer service platform via APIs so that conversations can be transitioned to one of your agents. This ensures that even when you are experiencing a spike in customer service requests, these queries will get through to agents. Then, they can follow up via the appropriate communication method. That way, customers will get the answers they need fast.

Email

Email is the ideal channel for providing customers with periodic updates about your business. Studies show that 89 percent of Americans check their email daily and many people check their email multiple times each day. 

If there’s a change or update that you want your customers to know about, email is often the most effective way to send that message. That said, it’s important not to spam your customers. Sending emails too often may cause customers to ignore or delete your messages. 

Asynchronous messaging

Asynchronous messaging is a communication channel that is particularly helpful for communicating with customers digitally. You can easily add this feature to your website or mobile app. Then, customers will be able to start a chat with customer support, leave, and come back to the conversation without losing context. 

Consumers are already used to chatting with their family, friends and co-workers in this way on messaging apps they already use and love like WeChat, iMessage, and Whatsapp. One study shows that 75 percent of people prefer to use messaging channels for most customer service interactions. Providing a communication channel to customers that feels familiar, like messaging, will help keep engagement high while your storefronts are closed.

AI and automation

An added benefit of asynchronous messaging is that it enables automation for quick and easy self-service. For example, an answer bot can respond to customer messages instantly with useful articles from your FAQs so customers can get their questions answered without needing to speak to an agent. Simple chatbots can also be deployed to handle routine workflows, like issuing a return label. Using these technologies, you can more easily communicate with customers and address routine questions instead of leaving them to wait for hours on hold. 

Conclusion

It’s a challenging time for many businesses, especially those that are accustomed to interacting with customers in person. But don’t get discouraged by the loss of up-close, personal interaction. There are ample ways to connect with your customers virtually and continue to provide an excellent customer experience. 

Published April 20, 2020
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